Former first lady Michelle Obama warned American voters just what the next four years could look like in an endorsement video for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, lambasting President Donald Trump for his actions in office that have stoked “fears about Black and brown Americans.”
In the nearly 25-minute-long video released Tuesday, Obama denounced Trump for being negligent during the COVID-19 crisis and failing to create a plan to save lives. She criticized his insistence on ignoring social distancing guidelines, holding rallies and other events for his supporters, and lying to the American people.
She also talked about the ongoing protests against racial inequality in America and Trump’s response. She accused the administration of spreading lies about Black and brown people to whip up “violence and intimidation” when the protests have been “overwhelmingly peaceful.”
“It is frustrating to hear [for] some folks that you’ve been the beneficiary of privilege, that the color of your skin gives you a head start. That is the reality for far too many hardworking, decent Americans. But, right now, the president and his allies are trying to tap into that frustration and distract from his breathtaking failures by giving folks someone to blame other than them,” she said.
“They’re stoking fears about Black and brown Americans, lying about how minorities will destroy the suburbs, whipping up violence and intimidation. And they’re pinning it all on what’s been an overwhelmingly peaceful movement for racial solidarity. It’s true. Research backs it up. Only a tiny fraction of demonstrations have had any violence at all.”
Obama went on to call out Trump’s actions for what they are: racist.
“So what the president is doing is, once again, patently false. It’s morally wrong and yes, it is racist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work,” she said, before imploring undecided voters to put themselves in her and her ancestors’ shoes.
“Put yourselves in our shoes for just a moment,” she said, as a “sitting president” is helping to fuel the “scorn” that Black and brown people face on a daily basis.
“Imagine how it feels to have suspicion cast on you from the day you were born simply because of the hue of your skin. To walk around your own country scared that someone’s unjustified fear of you could put you in harm’s way. Terrified of what four more years of this kind of division might mean for the safety of you and those you love. Living with the knowledge that no matter how hard we try, how much good we do in the world, there will be far too many who will never see our humanity. Who will project on us their own fears of retribution for centuries of injustice and thus only see us as a threat to be restrained.”
Obama noted what’s ahead for people of color: more racial slurs, lost job promotions and routine traffic stops gone wrong.
“Racism, fear, division. These are powerful weapons and they can destroy this nation if we don’t deal with them head on,” she said before asking voters from both sides of the aisle to “please take a moment to pause.”
After her “Closing Argument” video was released, Obama tweeted that she had “weighed whether or not to go public at all,” but ultimately decided to because she wanted people to hear what’s been on her mind.
This video’s commentary fits with remarks Obama made in late August when she condemned the “systemic racism” coming from the White House in the aftermath of racial unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“These past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about what our kids are seeing every day in this country — the lack of empathy, the division stoked in times of crisis, the age-old and systemic racism that’s been so prominent this summer,” Obama said at the time.
“Sometimes they see it on the news. Sometimes they see it from the White House Rose Garden. And sometimes they see it from the back seat of a car.”
Trump has made little to no effort to hide his racism and intolerance throughout his presidency, throwing disparaging comments and/or gestures at Mexicans, other Latinos, Native Americans, Muslims, Black people, immigrants, women and people with disabilities. Throughout the pandemic, he’s repeatedly called the coronavirus the “China virus” and dubbed COVID-19 the “kung flu.” And amid the protests in response to the police killing of George Floyd, Trump described as “thugs” the demonstrators who he claimed were responsible for having one of his events canceled in Tulsa, Oklahoma.